Legal & General's (L&G) general insurance operation reported a 27% leap in operating profits to £22m in the first six months of the year, up from £16m in the same period last year.

The increase in the general book came as the company announced overall operating profits slipped to £365m in the first half, down from £369m last year.

After tax and taking into account variations from longer term investment returns, the results moved to a loss of £131m compared to a profit of £193m in the six months to June 30 2001.

L&G's general insurance operations wrote premiums of £141m in the first half compared to £124m in the same period last year, an increase of nearly 14%.

Rising profits from the household book and a mix of other general insurance business contributed to the increase. Household rose to £8m in the first half of this year from £6m in the same period last year despite slightly higher bad weather claims.

L&G accounts include a category called other general insurance. This is split between motor, private medical insurance and accident, sickness and unemployment benefits in roughly equal proportions.

The category's operating profits increased to £9m in the first half of this year from £4m in the same period last year.

In June, the company announced a deal to double the general business written by Gresham Insurance, of which it owns 90%. Gresham will provide buildings and contents insurance to Barclays Bank customers from next year.